New acquisition: FIONA FOLEY
8 February 2013 to 30 June 2013
Currently on display in the gallery entrance are two recent acquisitions by Fiona Foley. These two masked portraits are part of Fiona Foley’s photographic series Bring it on, also known as HHH. It was produced while the artist undertook a residency in New York in 2004.
According to Foley, HHH is the acronym of the ‘Hedonistic Honky Haters’, a secret society that was founded in North America in 1965 (‘Honky’ is Afro-American slang for white person). As part of this artistic ruse, Foley claims to have found and photographed seven HHH members while she resided in New York.
This series adopts the conventions of ethnographic studio portraiture, with the HHH members posed against a white backdrop, staring blankly toward the camera. Foley, however, has inverted this genre by dressing her subjects in black hoods that mimic those worn by the Ku Klux Klan. Instead of being objectified by ethnographic documentation, Foley’s subjects challenge the viewer with beady eyes that interrogate the viewer from behind opulent masks of Dutch wax fabric.
Fiona Foley is a contemporary Indigenous Australian artist whose practice encompasses a broad range of media including photography, painting, video, sculpture, printmaking and installation art. She was a founding member of the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative established in Sydney in the 1980s, and is known nationally and internationally for her active role in promoting Indigenous identity. Her artworks often investigate the ongoing significance of Australia’s colonial histories and many of her photographs deal with photography’s historical role in the representation of Indigenous people.